Tips for Staying Alert While Driving

November 1, 2019 | by BMI Staff

Drowsiness contributes to over 100,000 collisions every year, according to the NHTSA. The majority of those at risk tend to be teenagers, truck drivers, military personnel, and shift workers. If you are in these lines of work, or ever find yourself struggling to keep your eyes open on your daily commute, take a look at these tips for staying awake and alert behind the wheel.

  1. If time allows before your next long drive, allow yourself a bit of time prior to leaving for a quick nap. Even a 30-minute cat nap will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the road.
  2. Drink caffeine. 
  3. Listen to something. Whether you are a steering-wheel pop star or an avid reader, there is something out there for you. Driving in absolute silence or listening to radio ads can be boring, and boredom often leads to drowsiness. 
  4. Travel with passengers. Drivers with passengers in the car are 50% less likely to fall asleep or feel drowsy behind the wheel. Slip into a good conversation, and keep it going with leading questions in order to stay awake.
  5. Wear sunglasses. While it definitely becomes more difficult to stay awake at night, the precautions you take while the sun is out make a difference. Especially if you are traveling from daytime to evening, make sure to wear sunglasses and employ your visor. In addition to the damage caused by UV rays, squinting will strain your eyes and make you more sleepy, later on.
  6. Eat healthy snacks that will keep your blood sugar at the optimal level while driving. Avoid eating incredibly heavy foods or entire meals, as this may cause fatigue.
  7. Drink water. While this will inevitably encourage more bathroom stops, fatigue is a symptom of dehydration. To limit the number of bathroom breaks by some, avoid diuretics such as soda and tea–unless, of course, you need that caffeine fix! 
  8. Take exercise and nap breaks. If you are driving for more than four hours, a safe way to stay awake during those long road trips is to pull over and take a quick cat nap in your vehicle or do a few jumping jacks before getting back on the road. 
  9. Keep the temperature low. There’s a reason school classrooms and offices are always chilly. Our teachers and employers know that this will keep us awake! Especially as the temperature starts cooling off, it will be more tempting to crank the heater and get cozy. Turning the heater off for a bit might give you that extra jolt of cool energy you need to stay alert.
  10. Roll down the windows. You may have to keep this one brief in the winter, but even a quick breath of fresh air combined with the sound and movement of the wind should give you a nice boost of energy.